HARVEY | There are home meets, and then there are HOME meets.
Nobody was more at home at Saturday's Thornton Classic than Thornton senior Maurice Buchanan.
The long-jumper, high-jumper and jack-of-all trades sprinter lives in the blue house bordering the south end of Thornton's football stadium, so close that the Wildcats' locker room is farther from the finish line than his own bedroom.
"He's about as Harvey as can be," Thornton track coach Vince McAuliffe said. "He's true-blue Thornton. He bleeds purple, and growing up in that house, he's been listening to me yell at people for 12 years."
Buchanan, a state qualifier in the long jump last year and a member of Thornton's Class 3A third-place finishers as a sophomore, is rarely McAuliffe's target.
Saturday, as Thornton (129 points) finished second to Evanston (167) at the seven-team classic, Buchanan won the long jump in a season-best 22 feet, 7 inches, finished second in the high jump (6-0) and ran in the finals of the 100 meters and the third leg of the Wildcats' winning 1,600-meter relay. When the state series begins, he'll likely compete in the two jumps, the 400 relay and the 800 relay.
"He's a team guy, a captain," McAuliffe said. "He's an amazing athlete and can do anything — and more important, he has no ego about it. He's willing to do whatever the team needs."
Buchanan accepted the compliment with a shrug, saying, "I'm a natural-born Wildcat. I'd do anything for this school."
Including hosting the occasional post-practice get-together on his front porch.
"We'll chill ... drink some Gatorade, some lemonade, eat some chips," he said.
If Thornton is to improve on its 13th-place finish at last year's state meet, Buchanan may have to take some of that front-porch approach to Charleston, where he'll aim to rebound from a disappointing long jump effort that left him out of the finals.
"Last year I jumped 20-8," said Buchanan, whose personal best is 22-9. "I guess being my first time down there at that level, it was overwhelming. This year, I look to go down there and win state."
To that end, Buchanan viewed Saturday's effort as promising.
"It's been kind of cold, and that's been affecting me a lot," he said. "Now that it's getting warmer, I'm jumping better."
But can he jump well enough to win state?
"I think it'll take 24 feet," he said. "I've scratched on a 23-8 before. I think I've got a 24 in me."
Adonis Johnson was another event-winner for the Wildcats, taking the triple jump in 46-5.5. Cavion Clanton was second in the 100, and third in the triple and high jumps.
Thornwood finished third with 90 points. Thunderbirds sophomore Dwight Johnson won the 200 in 21.91.